Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: She’s finally the retiring type

  • Written by Jeff Vorva



Regional Publishing’s Ulanowski leaves after Page-3-2-col-Sharon-for-JV-COLOne of the last stories that retired Regional Publishing typesetter Sharon Ulanowski worked on was this column. Photo by Jeff Vorva.decades of service

  When Sharon Ulanowski walked into the Regional Publishing office as the company’s new typesetter for the first time in the summer of 1972, it was hot outside.
  It was worse inside.
  “There was no air conditioning,” she said. “We had fans blowing. The old press was here and that gave off heat. It was hot and muggy.”
  Ulanowski walked out of the Regional Publishing office Tuesday on her final day as a typesetter in temperatures on the wrong side of zero with plenty of snow piled up visible from the parking lot.
  In between the sizzler of ’72 and the freeze of ’14, Ulanowski has spent decades typesetting copy of stories and ads for the Regional and Reporter newspapers. It’s almost impossible to figure out how many stories she has seen and it’s unimaginable to figure out how many words her eyes have seen jeff columnduring her career here.
  “I love my job,” she said. “I like the typing. I like reading the news. I don’t read the newspaper at home because I read the stories here.”
  In recent years, she has used a computer to get the work done. In the old days, it was different.
  “We punched holes on a yellow strip,” she said. “It went into a big machine. We called it ‘Beauregard.’ It ran through the machine and it came out on film. Then we ran it through the smelly chemical processor. We had to let the film dry and we had to trim it and ran it through a waxer and then we had to paste it all down.”
  I’ve known Sharon for the past 16 months of her career and have stayed on her good side for most of them.
  She did most the news work for the Regional and sports for both papers. In July, when I was mulling if I should move from Regional reporter to Reporter editor, she insisted I stay with the Regional because we worked so well together.
  The next time I saw her after I accepted the job as Reporter editor in August, she greeted me warmly with a “Good morning, traitor.”
  Aside from that day, we got along pretty well even though I know she wasn’t happy a few weeks later when I approached her about the Football Forecast feature in sports that we wanted to try out for the first time.
  While it sounds simple to have five goofballs picking about 10 prep football games a week, it took a lot of work on her end to get everything lined up just right to make the graphic look as good as it did.
  When we did our last Football Forecast after the state championship, I jokingly announced that we were going to do it for basketball as well. Have you ever heard of the term “stink-eye?” Well, that day I got it.
  Before coming to our offices, Ulanowski worked at Chicago Title and Trust and took four years off before coming to our offices in Palos Heights on that hot day in 1972. She is originally from Chicago and attended Immaculate Conception Grammar School and St. Peter and Paul High School — both have ceased to exist after her departure (hope that’s not an omen).
  It’s the end of an era for us at the Regional and Reporter. Few papers use typesetters anymore.
  Ulanowski lives in Bridgeview with her husband, Tom (of 45 years) and together they have made some of the best Christmas sweets you ever wanted to eat. We will insist that she stops by in December to fill our bellies with holiday goodness.
  Their son, Paul, is a Cook County Sheriff’s officer who teaches at Moraine Valley Community College and is a gun range instructor. Her daughter-in-law is also in the printing business at Fischer Printing in Bridgeview. Her retirement will feature fun with her grandkids, Raymond Richard (age 9) and Madison Mae (7).
  “They are the love of my life,” she said.
  So our loss is her grandkids’ gain.
  Just two pieces of advice to the kids:
  First, make sure you hug your grandma often because she loves her hugs.
  Second, don’t make her do any Football Forecasts.